Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ron Paul, Imperial Japan, and the (Il)Legitimacy of American Expansion

This just in from Grady Glenn:
二週間前、アメリカの第一の共和派の議論が行われました。その直後の世論調査によって、ロン・ポールという今まで誰も名も知らぬ下院議員が明らかに勝利したと指摘されました。それを見て、僕は関心しこのアーティクルを書きました。このタイトルの和訳は、「アメリカ次期大統領候補ロン・ポール、大日本帝国、そして米国の拡張の(不)正当性」ぐらいかな?時間あったら和訳します。

America today is facing many of the same dilemmas that Imperial Japan faced in the 1930s -- empire, military over-expansion, restrictions of civil liberties at home, etc. In this article I discuss how today's neoconservative vision of "American globalism" resembles Japan's "Pan-Asian" ideology, and how Ron Paul is the only candidate for President who presents a challenge to this.

An old friend currently working as an adviser to the John McCain campaign recently remarked to me that “much of what Ron Paul says makes sense; but don’t be a wimp ― vote McCain.” The comment was a reminder that the irrational instincts ― the ones that urge us to ignore our more reasonable impulses and not be a "p--sy" ― still do drive much of the conventional policy-making in this country.

Unfortunately, it’s too late in the game to turn Senator McCain around. In fact, he's been advocating his own brand of authoritarianism for decades now, which is why the libertarian-leaning Barry Goldwater was never too fond of him.

The problem is that, like the Japanese Empire circa 1935, the U.S.'s central government has become all too powerful to be challenged by an occasional voice of reason. There were several Ron Paul-esque voices in Japan, too, at the time, but they were easily crushed for appearing "sympathetic to the enemy," just as Congressman Paul was "crushed" (according to the major papers) by Giuliani a few months ago for pointing out the fact that we are despised not for our tremendous freedom and wealth, but for our policies and actions abroad.

And the similarities with Imperial Japan do not stop there. After the debate, Ron Paul was interviewed by Fox News, who attacked him on moral grounds for not supporting our numerous interventions around the globe. We have the moral obligation to stop tyrants, they argued.

This "duty to civilize the world" is of course something we are used to hearing, and is part of the legacy we inherited from the British. But it was also an important feature of the Japanese Pan-Asian ideology, which disguised Japan’s particularistic geo-political goals in universalistic moral terms, and transformed nationalist sentiment into an anti-Western, Pan-Asiatic internationalism. The commentator on Fox News, however, is of course unaware of this distinction; for him, there is no difference between the particularistic goals of the United States and the “universal good.”

Thumbing through the last volume of the Cambridge History of Japan, I was recently struck by another similarity to our present American predicament. It appears that there were two strains in Japan’s political discourse at the time -- one that advocated the immediate and violent expansion of Japanese power (today’s neoconservative doctrine), and the other which advocated a somewhat more polite expansion through the use of what Harvard professor Joseph Nye calls “soft power,” which is what we saw, with several notable exceptions, in the Clinton administration.

But the parallel with America lies here: By the mid-1930s there were nearly no influential voices left in Japan to oppose the very notion of "expansion." Like the American politicians today, the Japanese leaders of the period never questioned the legitimacy of their expansion. It was their "manifest destiny," and the only debate was about how it could be best achieved. I am afraid we're at that point in America today.

For Japan, the problem was that as its empire soaked in deeper throughout Asia and resistance began to mount, they could no longer afford to utilize their softer methods of influence, which had in early decades served them relatively well. More and more, war became Japan's only way of doing business. Today, America is facing a very similar crisis, and it seems the only candidate aware of this ― and bothered by it ― is the conservative, Ron Paul.

By contrast, John McCain, still clinging to the absurdity that they hate us because we're rich and free (I don't know about the rest of Americans, but I'm barely staving off starvation with peanut butter and tofu), now brazenly advocates a broader Mideast war, proving himself to be the most misguided among our misguided Senators. Though a Hillary, Giuliani or an Obama will probably fare no better, a McCain presidency would likely be a most disastrous thing for both the entire Mideast (Israel included) and us. I should remind us all that there are far greater things to fear than being called a “p--sy.”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

mid-East policy

As an independent candidate for President, I have a better plan for ending the Iraq War than Ron Paul does. I would go to Guantanamo, load the "prisoners of war" onto airplanes, explain to them that they would do less damage to America as enemy combatants than as foreign nationals being tortured by mentally-ill Americans, and take them back where they came from. Then I would go to Iraq and order all Americans to stand down from offensive military actions and coordinate with the Iraqi governmnent the orderly withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The President can do this in Iraq because Congress did not declare war on anyone.

If members of Congress should have any objections to this action, they are free to object as strenuously as they like. If impeached by Congress I would attend my impeachment trial.

I have not copyrighted this plan for ending the Iraq war. Any other candidates such as Ron Paul or even the incumbent President are free to use it. My prediction is that on general election day I will still be the only candidate with an actual plan for ending the Iraq War.

-Robert Winn

Anonymous said...

America has become much like Tojo's japan a militarist regime that oppresses and exploits the places it conquers. The Us atrocities and war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Us military are like the ones committed in China,Asia,and the pacific during the 30' and 40's by the Japanese army. Guantanamo is Americas own unit 731.